Lamb's Slide, Rocky Mountain National Park
Participants: Mike Sullivan, Stephen Janus, John Stephens,
This outing was a practice session for the upcoming Mexican Volcanoes
trip. On Friday morning, Stephen, John, and I hiked up to the base
of the East Face of Long's Peak to climb Lamb's Slide - a fun 1000-foot
couloir that is rated AI2. Our objective was to give John a safe environment
to practice using crampons (his first time... he did great!), and to give
each of us an opportunity to practice our skills in handling ropes and
gear safely on ice.
Since it is a relatively easy route, we brought only two ice screws
for use as belay anchors. To supplement the superlight rack, I also wedged
an ice axe in the moat at the side of the couloir at a couple of the belays.
After a few pitches we agreed to descend, since we had achieved our main
goal and were moving too slowly to finish the couloir. I hacked out
an ice bollard for our first rappel anchor - this was the first one I'd
ever done, and I found it to be even more tedious than expected. We completed
our descent and had an enjoyable hike out, passing way-too-many parties
headed in for weekend climbing on Long's.
On Saturday morning, the three of us met up with Mark at the Bear Lake
trailhead. When the information ranger heard that we were heading to Tyndall
Glacier, he enthusiastically launched into a detailed story about a gory
accident which had happended to a skier on Tyndall the previous weekend.
We finally escaped his grasp, and headed happily up and over Flattop Mountain,
where we got the tempura treatment (we were lightly battered) by wind and
rain. On the bright side, there were several sizable cracks in the glacier,
and we quickly found a perfect one for practicing crevasse rescue techniques.
We spent the next few hours practicing rope and anchor work, rigging
Z-pulleys, and taking turns prussiking up the overhanging lip of the bergschrund.
It was great - especially after the sun broke through the rainclouds. Mark
took advantage of the clearing weather to make a very quick dash up the
nearby summit of Hallett Peak. (This guy is an animal. He said he had climbed
Gray's and Torrey's Peaks on Friday, and went for a run in Boulder later
that afternoon "to loosen up a little.")
We headed back down as another rain squall crept up over us, and drove
into Estes Park for a great meal at the Notchtop Bakery/Restaurant, where
the guys treated me to dinner. The next morning, Mark-a-thon left before
dawn to go climb Mt. Bierstadt before heading home to Los Alamos. Personally,
I chose to sleep late...